A taste of our own medicine: Imps 1-1 Mansfield

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Football is a cruel mistress. When the board went up yesterday for an inexplicable five minutes of stoppage time, I felt I’d be enjoying my protracted 40th birthday celebrations with a fine Imps win followed by a vodka chaser. Or six.

That late Jacob Mellis strike knocked the wind out of our sails and the feeling walking away from the ground was one of deflation. We’d thrown away three points, or that is how it felt. In the ground, the vociferous cheers from Mansfield supporters made me wonder if they’d perhaps won some silverware I hadn’t been aware of.

Such is football, the visiting side had the elation of the late goal inside them, we had a feeling of defeat, despite the draw. It is only with the passing of time and a Stevenage win that things become clear. In truth, we had more to celebrate than David Flitcroft’s side as we remained five points ahead of them. I said it before the game and I’ll stand by it now; a draw was a decent result for us. it wasn’t the preferable result, of course I wanted us to win, anyone suggesting otherwise is deluded, but I called a 1-1 draw and I’m happy with it. Ben Kennedy’s goal helped of course.

Anyway, before all the late drama and inevitable shenanigans at the final whistle, there was a football match, a local derby / rivalry / whatever. It’s the first time this season we’ve seen the ground with a decent away following in one end, with the pre-match atmosphere ramped right up. I was pleasantly surprised to find the High Street very low on police in the morning, Wetherspoons had a few dubious looking characters in it, but the boys in blue had a low-key presence. There’s no need to antagonise the atmosphere with lots of visible police, but they were there, in the background. From what I’ve heard there was no trouble either, happy to be corrected of course. Last year I recall some clashes after the game, but hopefully things passed off peacefully yesterday.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

There was little surprise in the team selection, Neal Eardley coming back was a big boost and it was pretty much business as usual in the starting XI. It’s sad to see Freck still struggling, but in Tom Pett we have a more than adequate deputy.

I felt the first half was a huge anti-climax. There had been lots of build up, lots of talk about the size of the game and how the teams were evenly matched, plenty of tactical analysis and speculation but what we got was 45 minutes of football few will remember with any fondness. That isn’t to say either side were playing badly, but we definitely cancelled each other out and my thought was that the visitors were the only side who would score.

We had a chance or two, Bruno looked to catch Bobby Olejnik out of his goal but scooped a decent effort wide, but credit to John Akinde who harassed the keeper into slicing in to Bruno. At the other end Josh Vickers made a decent save too, but there’s not a fan on either side who will be petitioning the club for a highlights package from the first 45 minutes. 

I felt John Akinde was having a good half and Chris from Running Imp agreed. He’s not sold on big John as I am, so to hear him say he’d played well means he must have. I know there was the inevitable negative feedback on social media for him after the game, but in my opinion it is unwarranted. I did see a post claiming he’s not scoring enough for a lone striker, but his role isn’t simply front man getting on the end of things. He’s working hard to get the ball, then make things happen. He looked isolated, but is that his fault? No. 

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I thought Tom Pett had a strong first half too, both Bozzy and Shackell at the back looked as solid as ever. I’d been worried about Tyler Walker before the game and threatened with the pace of CJ Hamilton on the radio, but I thought both were thoroughly underwhelming. If I had to praise the visitors, which I do, I’d say their back three are as good as any defence we’ve seen this season, MK Dons included. I also liked Neil Bishop in the middle of the park, he was commanding, hard-working and showed his experience whenever he got on the ball.

There was some criticism of the referee and before I go any further I’d like to clarify; a retweet on Twitter is not an endorsement from me. My podcast colleague Ben felt the ref was having a poor game and I retweeted it for comment, not because I necessarily agreed, so the Mansfield fan who DM’d me might like to rethink his words. I didn’t think Gavin Ward was having a brilliant game, but given the magnitude of the occasion and the commitment from both sides, he was keeping a lid on things. I heard plenty of comment about how things could explode on the pitch, but he did a good job keeping everyone in check. There will always be the odd decision we criticise or disagree with, that’s football. He got nothing major wrong for me, he rightly admonished Danny for his touchline antics but he did seem to have a rapport with the players. I saw him sharing a joke with Neal Eardley at one point, a sign of a calm and approachable referee.

The D3D4 podcast guys had come to the game and they felt it was a committed first half between two good sides. I felt it was tepid at best, even in the stands. The early efforts of our boys to get the atmosphere ramped up seemed to die away with the pace of the game and the Stags fans, from where I was sitting, were on some sort of silence vow. I feel that a big away following can be more important than three or four times as many home fans, 1,600 all pumped up and signing is often better than 1,000 or so vocal home fans and the other 7,000 joining in occasionally. Not yesterday, not in the first half.

Next Page – A real game of two halves



  1. Almost all the criticism yesterday post-match, that I heard, was aimed at Akinde. Not Harry or Shay, who were both underwhelming yesterday,but Akinde.

    I actually thought John did well yesterday. Despite being isolated, he managed to create a couple of chances for himself and constantly occupied 2 or 3 of their defence.

    I notice no-one called out any of the defenders for not clearing the ball when Mellis scored.

    Anyway, it’s Oldham Tuesday and another 3 points to contest.

  2. Spot on Gary – second half we put in a really strong performance. Until we scored. We weren’t troubled by Mansfield through the whole half until we stopped playing our system and tried to keep the ball in the corners. We immediately looked fragile and tentative rather than keeping shape. We were the only team who looked like scoring until then.

    On the subject of individual performances, I don’t think we had a weak link. I thought John Akinde had one of his best games – some lovely close control when receiving the ball – perhaps just missing the final touch. Similar with Harry Anderson – he played really well – just missing the final ball. He’d done all the hard work most of the time. Everyone played their part. It was nice to see Neil Eardley back. We look much more solid.

  3. Best team at the Bank this season. You can see why they have such a long unbeaten record away from home in the league. We were 2 minutes shy of ending that run after a dominant second half display. Very impressed with Khan, Bishop and Mellis in particular. Title contenders. We all said we would have settled for a point before the game…….

  4. “For what it is worth, I don’t think Harry had a bad game at all.”
    Come on Gary, you really do need to go to Specsavers where Harry is concerned. He is becoming the nearly man….he nearly did this, he nearly did that. He nearly did, but that lack of the telling pass, that lack of getting a shot off, that lack of keeping the ball at the end of his impressive runs are letting himself and the team down. Yes, I’ve said it before, he is young but he doesn’t seem to have improved season on season . To my mind, it’s time to let him go in the January window or loan him out. I don’t dislike the lad but the improvement when Kellan came on was noticeable. Playing Harry doesn’t give us the cutting edge we need down that wing and to push on to promotion we need that and the goals that should come with it……

  5. I tend to agree with Harrow’s view of Harry. Thought he had his best game for some time against Northampton but yesterday was back to running into cul de sacs.
    Can’t fault his attitude but not enough end product I’m afraid.
    On the game we were definitely the better side in the second half and I think 1-0 would have been a fair reflection but we’re often protecting narrow leads in the closing minutes and eventually you’re going to get caught out..

  6. Mansfield came to the bank with a reputation for good attractive football but instead were underwhelming , workmanlike as a team but not anywhere near some of the other teams that have been here before- Bury, MK Dons and dare I say FGR. I think they set out to contain without being defensive.

    Think most Imps players were 7 out of 10 in various phases of the game, some marginally better, but it is a good point certainly in light of all other results yesterday. We have to have a sense of perspective here, when we have been scoring those late winners the stags have not been able to find one hence all of those 11 draws they have made. They also have to get a sense of perspective as well it was an EQUALISER not a Winner. I like the fact we are under their skin as well as being six points ahead with a game in hand, where would we rather be.

    I have to agree with Harry comments but he is young and the end product will come with experience maybe he is overtrying.

    Finally I just wish people would get off Big Johns back we are top of the league and in a very good place, with our players ready for the four games in 12 days fully charged and having had a well earned rest.

    The campaign restarts here.

    Ps I didn’t believe a word of Flip crofts post match interview – tonsillitis etc felt it was all kidology

  7. Football will always be a game of opinions I thought big John was a handful again yesterday and was a real threat in the second half as Mansfield tired.

    However I do agree with other comments about Harry. He didn’t have a ‘bad’ game yesterday, but certainly didn’t have a good one either. I’ve posted here and elsewhere about Harry before, but Harrow is right when he says he is a nearly man. I can’t criticise his work rate or endeavour, nor his attitude or ability to pop up with an odd goal but his overall effectiveness in games is held back by poor decision making, shooting when he should pass and passing when he should shoot etc.

    Interesting times as Danny has shown in the past he is not afraid to take Harry out for a few games and then bring him back fresh and hungry. He is also young and will undoubtedly improve, however just like Gary I also know a good right winger when I see one and I am not convinced we are seeing the best of ours at the mimute.

  8. Although I don’t fully understand modern day tactics etc at a professional level it is evident to me that a significant number of fans both at Lincoln City and probably every other Club have a very simplistic view of the game. On Saturday the reason why Mansfield weren’t able to play neat triangles let alone create chances was down to how hard the midfield and forwards worked to force them into errors especially in the first half. Creatively I am afraid we are a man short but in defence of H his defensive side has come on leaps and bounds from a year ago and he was out on his feet with ten minutes to go. This allowed Gordon to come on and bring his attacking attributes to bear. Football these days is a 90 minute game involving more than 11 players but all playing their part. Lets leave the tactics, formation to the Management team but who ever is on the pitch at anyone time lets give them our utmost support. That’s our job!

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